Join Julio Appling for an in-depth discussion in this video General practice tips, part of Real Books and Digital Accompaniment Tools for Musicians.
- [Instructor] I want to touch on a few final tips to leave you with, as you venture into the world of digital accompaniment tools. First, know what you're looking for. Before you purchase software, take a personal inventory of your software needs. These might include your desired purpose, specific features you feel are most important, and of course, how much you're willing to pay. Check reviews of the software from both publications and fellow users, and download a demo or trial version, if it's available. While developers love to share the high points of the software, you can always count on users not to hold back in their reviews.
Once you've chosen and purchased your software, be sure to spend some time with it. Your practice software is a musical tool in your toolbox, so take some time to learn its ins and outs. While I've provided a general overview of some features of some popular digital accompaniment applications, you'll want to take the time and really dig into the features most important to you. Learn the keyboard shortcuts and explore all the features. Skipping that step may leave you taking several minutes to perform an action that should only take a few seconds.
It may also be worth your while to consult online videos to see how others use the software, as they may employ methods and shortcuts that you had not considered. If the software you're using is missing what you think could be a useful feature, take the time and give feedback. Developers count on user feedback for deciding which features to add or possibly remove in future versions. For some types of software, like iReal Pro and Band-in-a-Box, there is a message board. For others, you might use a website forum, email contact, or perhaps social media.
Build a case for your feature and be as specific as possible in describing how you could see it employed. You never know, hundreds of others might have suggested the same thing and you might see a feature you suggested in a future iteration of the software. When it comes to using your software for practice, the common approach is to try and find the balanced and closest stylistic match for your song. That's definitely for the best, but don't count out changing the tempo, key signature, time signature, and style of a composition during your practice time.
Different physical approaches are required to play with these variations, and changing these elements forces you to try different ideas, which may sound better or worse depending on the feel. Downloading ready made playlists is great and it saves you a lot of time. However if you are still learning a song, consider going through the process of inputting the song yourself. It will give you more time with the music and provide a different learning approach. Going through the manual input process walks you through the form chord by chord and section by section.
This is particularly useful when you're new to software as well as the music, as you will then learn a little more about both in the process. Finally, be sure digital tools aren't replacing actual musicians. Digital accompaniment software is a great way to practice playing along with chords and wood shedding your solos, but making music is more than simply playing the right notes. Don't underestimate the importance of playing with real musicians. As great as accompaniment software can be, it's no substitute for an actual performance situation where musicians are able to respond to each other in real time.
Learning to play as part of an ensemble is just as important as playing all the correct notes, and it's an essential part of growing as a musician.
- Accompaniment styles
- Playback options and settings
- Drums and tracks
- Band in a Box
- iReal Pro